U.S. top court's Roberts asks lawyers to 'rise above' political bickering

BOSTON Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:21pm EDT

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts speaks at the American Bar Association's annual meeting in Boston, Massachusetts August 11, 2014.   REUTERS/Faith Ninivaggi

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts speaks at the American Bar Association's annual meeting in Boston, Massachusetts August 11, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Faith Ninivaggi

Related Topics

BOSTON (Reuters) - U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts on Monday called on members of the nation's largest group of attorneys to "rise above" the political disputes that have left Washington increasingly gridlocked in recent years.

Roberts, a conservative justice who was the swing vote on a 2012 Supreme Court decision that upheld President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, told members of the American Bar Association that they have a role to play in maintaining the public's faith in the U.S. political system.

"We live in an era in which sharp partisan divides within our political branches have shaken public faith in government across the board," Roberts told a crowd of several hundred ABA members in Boston. "We in the judiciary must also look to the bar for broader assistance in maintaining the public's confidence in the integrity of our legal system."

With polling showing Americans holding a low opinion of both President Barack Obama and Congress, Roberts, who was appointed chief justice in 2005 by then-President George W. Bush, said courts and lawyers must try to lift themselves above partisan passions.

"Lawyers fulfill their professional calling to its fullest extent when they rise above particular partisan debates and participate as problem solvers, whether through the ABA’s committees, through pro bono work, through public service or simply by helping the public understand the nature of the role that courts play in civil life, a role distinct from that of the political branches,” Roberts said.

In a speech largely focused on the Magna Carta, the seminal 1215 English charter of liberties, he called on his audience to remember that every generation has faced political roadblocks.

"Magna Carta's core principles of justice remain relevant today and worth defending," Roberts said. "No generation is spared its challenges."

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Will Dunham)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (20)
raptor666 wrote:
so… the man that gave us obamacare… thinks that scumbag lawyers should ….you know… not be political… I don’ know what he is smoking… but lawyers are not concerned about …politics… or truth or justice…they are concerned with how much money they can rake in…
is roberts trying to be… funny ?

Aug 11, 2014 12:58pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Malcriado415 wrote:
Let us all bask in the irony that one of the most ideologically partisan justices in generations is telling lawyers not to complain about the politicization of the courts as he warps the Constitution into some useless wad of conservative toilet paper.

Aug 11, 2014 1:03pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
donee wrote:
Government is called upon much too often, in significant ways, to assist big business today and it appears we must allow those big boys to fend for themselves in the interest of better government, and to reduce the amount of collateral damage created by such help!

Aug 11, 2014 1:04pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Full focus